How Can You Prevent Injury While Cycling?
Cycling is a fun activity and a great form of exercise, but like any other sport, it comes with its share of minor risks. Cycling is a very repetitive activity, meaning you are repeatedly using the same muscles, body parts, and movements again and again. This can cause undue strain on different parts of the body and result in injuries and sore spots. Here are some of the most common kinds of injuries you might sustain due to repetitive movements while cycling, and how to prevent them from happening.
Knee pain when cycling is typically a result of imbalance due to the position of knees while peddling, and can also be linked to weak muscles in the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. This pain can also be caused by overuse and overwork.
To prevent knee pain, ensure that your knees are always aligned to move over the middle of your feet. If you have flat feet or a similar foot posture problem, adjust the angle of your cleats or make use of special insoles or wedges to correct this issue.
If your glutes tend to be weak, work on strengthening them during training. Be sure to pay attention to other muscles, too, like your hamstrings or quads. Stretch your leg muscles before every ride to avoid strain. Be sure not to overwork your muscles; be aware of your strength limits and work your way up. Using lower gears when you can while riding can help.
You should also be aware of your seat height. If it is too high or too low, your knees could suffer strain. The seat should be at the right position in order for your knee to be almost completely straight when the pedal is at its lowest point in rotation.
2. Lower Back
This is one of the most common forms of pain you may experience while riding a bike. This is because the lower part of the black can often be too stiff and flexed when riding if your position isn’t perfect. The strong force from repeatedly peddling can also cause this pain as the power from the legs travels upwards to the body, driving the back to work in overtime.
To prevent this, try to keep your back at a relatively straight position – this depends on the type of bicycle you are riding, of course. Focus on bending your body more at the hips instead of forcing the shock up your back. This can take some practice.
Meanwhile, try to incorporate strength training for the muscles in your back that are responsible for the stability of your spine into your exercise routine. This will help strengthen parts of the back that aren’t traditionally trained and will improve resilience. Work on your core abdominal muscles, too.
Once again, ensure that your seat is at the correct height. A too-high seat can cause the pelvis to move and swing too much, which results in back strain.
3.Shoulders and Neck
When you cycle, your back occasionally curves. Too much of the curve compresses the shoulders and neck, which strain them in turn. An incorrect cycling posture with straight elbows and weight compressed over your hands can also lead to shoulder and neck strain. It is also a kind of pain you may experience when riding for too long.
To prevent this, keep your elbows soft, flexed, and slightly bent so that you absorb shock from the road better and stop pressure from travelling upwards into your shoulder, neck, and upper back. Keep your back elongated, and allow your neck to do the same.
You can also try and train your neck muscles and upper back via thoracic and neck exercises. Incorporate a few moves into your everyday exercise and it can make a difference as your strength in these areas increases.
As a side note, if you do all this and still experience shoulder and neck pain, consider swapping out your helmet for a lighter one.
4. Toes and Feet
Toes and feet may experience a numbness often referred to as burning feet during cycling. It can be caused by the nerves in these extremities becoming compressed from tight shoes, but can also be a result of excessive climbing during cycling or rough vibrations from the road.
The easiest way to prevent foot numbness is to ensure that you are wearing shoes of the right size and that the straps or cleats you are using are not overly tight. Take a look inside your shoe and remove buckles, straps, or protruding seams that are causing unnecessary pressure and tightness.
When using cleats, clip your feet into pedals straight and ensure that they are in a position where the balls of your feet rest on the axle. Your heels should fall into a good alignment naturally. Alternatively, opt to invest in pedals without clips.
If you are going for a long ride, do not use soft soled sneakers as they will not provide you with the support that you need.
This is a less commonly injured part of the body during cycling, but can occur when too much sprain is put on them, causing numbness and pain. They can also be hurt through vibrations from the road.
Prevent hand injuries by maintaining a relaxed grip on the handlebars, with your wrists and elbows also keeping to a relaxed position. This does not mean that you should not have a firm hold on the handles; just don’t squeeze them. Keep your wrists straight while riding.
If you like, you can also opt to use handlebar tape in order to prevent shock from vibrations. Padded gloves can also achieve this effect.
Injuries can take all the fun out of cycling and put you out of commission for weeks. By taking steps to prevent these injuries from occurring with proper techniques and tips, you’re doing yourself a huge favor and ensuring that you’ll be staying on the road for as long as you like.